Kushiel's Dart

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Kushiel's Dart
Kushiel's Dart.jpg
First edition cover
Author Jacqueline Carey
Cover artist John Jude Palencar
Country United States
Language English
Series Kushiel's Legacy
Genre Fantasy novel
Publisher Tor Books
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 701 pp (first edition, hardback)
ISBN 0-312-87238-0 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC 45890435
813/.6 21
LC Class PS3603.A74 K8 2001
Followed by Kushiel's Chosen

Kushiel's Dart is Jacqueline Carey's first novel and the first of the novels in her Kushiel's Legacy series. The idea for this book first came to Carey when she was reading the Biblical Book of Genesis, and specifically a passage about "sons of God" coming into the "daughters of Men". Later, when she was writing a coffee table book, she encountered Jewish folklore, which paralleled the story in greater detail. The fictional nation of Terre D'Ange in the story was founded by a rebel angel.[1]

The World of Terre D'Ange[edit]

Founded by angels[edit]

The Kushiel's Legacy series takes place in a medieval world that is modeled on Earth (the map at the beginning of the novels is a map of Earth, with creatively historically named countries). The main characters are from Terre d'Ange, which occupies the area of France.

Terre d'Ange was founded by Elua and His Companions and is thereby a nation of progeny of fallen angels.

For the full story about Elua, his Companions, the Eluine Cycle, and the founding of Terre d'Ange, see Elua and His Companions.

Each of Elua's companions founded a province of Terre d'Ange, except Cassiel, who chose to remain loyal to the commandments of the One God and not 'commingle with mortals'.[2]

"Love As Thou Wilt"[edit]

Elua's motto was "Love as thou wilt". This results in the fact that love and physical pleasure is a central aspect of society in Terre d'Ange. Although marriage exists in Terre d'Ange, it is viewed equally with other forms of love, including dalliance, taking a lover or consort, etc. It likewise engendered an acceptance of any form of love, be it reverent or harsh, heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. Usually, as part of a marriage, a D'Angeline lights a candle to Eisheth, asking her to "open the womb" of the woman so that she may be able to become pregnant.

One of the central institutions of Terre d'Ange is service to the angel Naamah. As such, her adepts are courtesans who prostitute themselves in a sacred service that honours Naamah's similar sacrifice to Elua. Naamah was said to have 'la[in] down with strangers in the marketplace for coin' in order that Elua could eat when the Companions had no money. She also, according to legend, offered herself to the King of Persis in exchange for Elua's freedom. In Naamah's honour, Servants of Naamah provide sexual services to paying clients (which goes to the owner of their marque, or into the pockets of the courtesans who have earned their marques) and an optional 'patron gift' freely offered in honour of Naamah (which pays for the marque to be tattooed onto the courtesans' backs).

The Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, or the "Night Court," is in the City of Elua and comprises Thirteen Houses. Each house has a head, called the Dowayne. Each Servant of Naamah owes a debt to their House for the training they have received, and in many cases upbringing. Their debt is considered complete when their marque, a tattoo covering the entire back, is complete.

Ruling classes[edit]

Terre D'Ange exists in a monarchical system, which is currently ruled by the Courcel line. They are directly descended from Elua, and their signature physical attribute is a graceful neck, which parallels the fact that their emblem is the Swan.

Each region has its own ruling elite in a feudal structure.

The courts are separate from the feudal ruling class and function in a similar fashion to present-day European courts including various levels of appellate courts. Final appeals can be brought to the King/Queen, who will either hear a case or rule that the previous judgements were appropriate and thereby refuse to hear the appeal. D'Angelines are known to treat their criminals and prisoners in a fashion similar to that of present-day European standards, though capital punishment and public floggings are practised. Rape is a capital offense.

Plot summary[edit]

The book follows Phèdre nó Delaunay's life from birth. She's born with a mote in her eye, which makes her appear inappropriate for service as a religious courtesan, but it is revealed that this is actually a sign that she is an 'anguissette' or sexual masochist, deriving sexual pleasure from pain. Her bond is purchased by a nobleman who does train her as a courtesan, and discovers a plot against her homeland which she has a chance to interrupt.



As noted above, the map of the world of Terre D'Ange is a map of Earth, with similar country borders, but which are renamed, generally with allusions to historical names/places.

Character names[edit]

Phèdre nó Delaunay: In the Kushiel's Legacy series, it is referenced several times that Phèdre is "an ill-luck name," and that she brings bad luck to many people she meets. This stems from the fact that Phèdre is the D'Angeline (or French) pronunciation of Phaedra, a figure from Hellene (Greek) mythology. She was Theseus's wife and fell in love with his son (her stepson) Hippolytus. Various versions of the myth exist, but in all of them Hippolytus spurns her advances and meets his death because of her affection. Hence, Phèdre is an ill-luck name for those around her.

Melisande Shahrizai: Has two possible derivatives. Is a French form of Melissa, meaning "honeyed." The second derivative could be from the "old" German name Milucent, whose derivative is ‘Amalaswinth.’ It is composed of the Germanic elements ‘amal’ meaning ‘to work’ or ‘labor’ and ‘swinth,’ meaning ‘strength.’ Its combination, ‘to work for strength,’ is generally interpreted to mean ‘ambition.’[3] The character is probably named after Queen Melisende of Jerusalem.

Cinhil Ru: There are some references in the series to the Alban ruler who helped overthrow the Tiberians and drive them out of Alba. This is possibly a reference to Arthurian legend. One popular school of Arthurian legend runs that King Arthur was not a Roman king at all, but a native Breton king who actually drove the Romans from Britain and defended his people against barbarians (Saxons, Eirans). This idea has existed since the 12th century AD, when Geoffrey of Monmouth published his pseudo-history Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain). It relates the tale of how the emperor of Rome demanded tribute from King Arthur, who refused and drove the Roman armies back to Rome. This theme also appears in books such as Marion Zimmer-Bradley's epic The Mists of Avalon and Rosalind Miles' Guenivere trilogy, as well as in the 2004 movie "King Arthur".

Waldemar Selig: Culturally, Waldemar Selig and his tribes are similar to ancient Germanic tribes. There are many parallels between Selig and the ancient "Scourge of God", Attila the Hun and the principalities of Prussia and modern day Germany. [In Kushiel's Dart, Selig was defeated at Troyes-le-Mont.[4]


Adonai: A reference to the monotheistic God worshiped by Jews, Muslims, and Christians. "Adonai" is Hebrew for "Lord." In the Kushiel's Legacy series, most of the references to Adonai are closest to the Old Testament, Jewish interpretation of God. Likewise, many of the myths surrounding Him come from Jewish folklore.

Yeshua ben Yosef: The equivalent to Jesus, son of Joseph, son of God. Yeshua was executed by crucifixion by the Tiberians (Romans) and is worshiped by his followers, the Yeshuites. Unlike medieval Christianity, the Yeshuites are more alike to Jews (locks of hair, black clothing, speaking in Habiru = Hebrew) and experience similar to treatment under the Roman Empire. Also like the Jews, the Yeshuites are generally ostracized throughout Europe, although they are not in Terre d'Ange.

Mary of Magdala: In Kushiel's Legacy, Mary is the human mother of Elua. D'Angeline myth says that Elua was conceived through the blood of Yeshua ben Yosef and the tears of the Magdalene.


Delaunay's household[edit]

Royal Family of Terre D'Ange[edit]

See also: House Courcel

Companions of Elua[edit]


Awards and nominations[edit]

Kushiel's Dart won the 2002 Locus Award for Best First Novel.[5] It was also nominated for the 2002 Gaylactic Spectrum Awards.[6]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 6, 2008. Retrieved April 6, 2006. 
  2. ^ Carey, Jacqueline. Kushiel's Dart. Kindle Loc. 8782/15144
  3. ^ "Babynamesocean.com". Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  4. ^ "Attila, King of the Huns". Retrieved 2007-12-08. 
  5. ^ "2002 Locus Awards". The Locus Index to SF Awards. Retrieved 2006-12-28. 
  6. ^ "2002 Gaylactic Spectrum Awards". The Locus Index to SF Awards. Retrieved 2006-12-28. 

External links[edit]